Football Features

“They live and die by his performances” – Player ratings as Messi scores first PSG goal to take down Man City

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:38, 28 September 2021

In an incredible night of football, PSG beat Manchester City 2-0 in the Champions League with Leo Messi scoring.

The first-half was evenly balanced and lacking excitement but the second-half was full of action.

Here’s how the players rated at the Parc des Princes:

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Gianluigi Donnarumma – 8 – A rock on his Champions League debut. His handling was a bit hit-and-miss but he stood tall against every shot City sent PSG’s way. Pep’s men never looked like scoring and Donnarumma was a huge reason why.

Achraf Hakimi – 8 – Hakimi dominated at both ends of the pitch. He played a key pass in the build-up to PSG’s opener and a made a selfless run to make the second goal possible too. In defence he put Jack Grealish in his back pcoket and never let him out all night.

Marquinhos – 8 – PSG’s Brazilian captain always stands tall in big games and tonight was no exception. Whenever City would send the ball into the box, most of the time it was cleared by Marquinhos. He was honestly outrageous, getting to everything so quickly. For all the talk of their attack, PSG live and die by this man’s performances.

Presnel Kimpembe – 8 – Handled the City attack, such as it is, really well. Looks so much more confident next to his captain.

Nuno Mendes – 7 – Was really ropey in the first-half but recovered to defend his flank better in the second.

Idrissa Gueye – 8 – A tackling machine in the middle of the pitch, creating pressure and regaining possession for his side. He also scored the opening goal of the game with a staggeringly good shot right into the top bins.

Ander Herrera – 7 – Worked hard, kept the ball moving.

Marco Verratti – 8 – Didn’t get as stuck in defensively as usual but was so calm and composed in possession on his first game back. Moved it forward regularly and ensured that PSG’s counter-attacking game was potent.

Leo Messi – 8 – Had a quiet game, in all honesty, but when he flashed that old ability it was clear he’s still head and shoulders above the rest. Played a nice part in the opening goal, looked ridiculously good in bursts and then scored an absolutely phenomenal goal to seal the win. He even made a fantastic effort to become a meme when he lay down beneath the PSG wall, a move which was originally invented in La Liga to stop Messi himself from scoring free-kicks under the wall.

Neymar – 7 – Was nowhere near as effective as usual but still played a huge part in the first goal.

Kylian Mbappé – 8 – Looked so fluid and sharp, linking wonderfully with Leo Messi. His cross led directly to the first goal, albeit via a Neymar mis-hit, and then it was his delightful Suárez-esque flick back that allowed Messi to score.


Giorginio Wijnaldum (for Verratti 78′) – n/a – Came on late.

Danilo (for Gueye 90′) – n/a – Came on late.

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Manchester City

Ederson – 7 – Played well, keeping PSG at bay. Could do nothing about either goal.

Kyle Walker – 7 – Defended Neymar really well. Struggled against Messi and Mbappé, though.

Ruben Dias – 7 – Solid in defence but was helpless to stop either PSG strike.

Aymeric Laporte – 5 – Defended well in general but was found lacking for both goals. First he was positioned in the wrong place, allowing Mbappé’s cross to come infield. Then he got left for dead by Messi.

Joao Cancelo – 7 – City’s brightest spark of creativity and a solid defensive presence.

Rodri – 8 – Ran the show in the middle of the park. The best outfielder for City by far, and matched most PSG players. Made a game-high 6 tackles, he was supremely aggressive and then moved the ball on brilliantly. Really special.

Kevin De Bruyne – 7 – Not quite at his sharpest, but still looked incredibly dangerous. His cross for Raheem Sterling was an absolute thing of improvisational beauty. His movement was elusive and he just needs to be find a bit more sharpness.

Bernardo Silva – 5 – Worked hard and provided good width, however he somehow kicked the ball against the bar from four yards out with the goal gaping. That was inexplicably bad finishing and it cost City their big chance to win the game.

Riyad Mahrez – 5 – Just so hesitant with the ball, even though his movement was elusive and he often found good chances to shoot – he still never got round to actually firing the shot off in any meaningful way.

Raheem Sterling – 4 – He’s just not a striker, is he? Nice movement but in a role where he has to shoot at goal and be clinical he is just absolutely useless with the ball at his feet. His headed miss was poor but it was the best thing he did all night, which sums it up.

Jack Grealish – 4 – Not a great game for Jack Grealish. In fact it was a really bad game. Completely ineffective every time he saw the ball, and he saw the ball so very much. Got no change out of Hakimi, the ref or anyone in a PSG shirt. Got subbed off.


Phil Foden (for Grealish 68′) – 6 – Did more in his first 20 seconds than all three City forwards did in the previous 67 minutes. Played the wide positions so well and was just unfortunate Messi killed the game six minutes after he came on.

Gabriel Jesus (for Sterling 78′) – 5 – Looked more of a presence than Sterling. Why didn’t he start?


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